You’ll have to call him Dr. Cowher from now on. Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was they keynote speaker at Duquesne University’s commencement on Friday and was recognized with an honorary degree from the institution.
Cowher has family history on the Bluff, as his father Laird Cowher was a Duquesne graduate. There’s also the obvious professional ties, as Dan Rooney, who hired Cowher when he was the Steelers chairman, also went to Duquesne, and the Steelers frequently practiced on the team’s campus during the early part of Cowher’s tenure as head coach.
Cowher himself attended NC State, where he played football before moving on to his professional career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns and then onto coaching.
In his remarks to the graduates of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Cowher focused on how they should strive to become leaders in their fields.
“You enter a world where so much is expected; a world where so much is needed,” Cowher said. “It’s called leadership. Leadership is not a title or a position or even a salary. Leadership is not something that you’re born with, that you can buy or you can inherit. Leadership is something that you earn, that you demonstrate, that you cultivate. It’s a mindset, a skill, a responsibility. Leadership is a choice.
“It’s not easy. Leadership requires courage and vision. Leadership requires humility. It requires the ability to communicate, to motivate, to inspire. It requires a willingness to listen, to learn, to adapt, to grow. It requires a commitment to serve, to collaborate, to innovate, to excel. It requires the discipline to make sacrifices, to meet the demands, to stay focused on specific goals. And most importantly, it requires the resiliency to face adversity, to overcome the challenges, to preserve.
“Leadership is hard work, but it’s also so rewarding. When you think about, what does it give you a chance to do? If offer you the opportunity to make a difference. The satisfaction of seeing your vision come to life, seeing your team have success and the joy of sharing your gifts, your talents and your passion with others.”